Wizards exact revenge from Lakers
WASHINGTON — The Washington Wizards already let the young Los Angeles Lakers snake a victory from them this season. With an improved defense and better focus, they did not let another win slip away.
John Wall scored 23 points and Bradley Beal had 22 as the Washington Wizards gained some revenge and perhaps some needed positive momentum with a 111-95 victory over the Lakers on Thursday night.
Otto Porter contributed 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Wizards, who had lost five of seven starting with a 102-99 road setback against the Lakers on Oct. 25. Washington (6-5) also stopped a three-game home losing streak during which they allowed an average of 121.7 points per game.
The low point came Tuesday when the 1-10 Dallas Mavericks came away with a 113-99 victory. Losing again to the Lakers would have taken frustrations to another level so the Wizards made sure they didn’t.
“They’re one of the fastest paced teams in the league, “ Wall said of the Lakers. “We just challenged shots and made it tough, getting into the passing lanes. It ignites our offense when we get out in transition and get some layups.”
Brook Lopez and Jordan Crawford each had 15 points as seven Lakers (5-7) scored in double figures.
Lakers guard Lonzo Ball came close to his first career triple-double, finishing with 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, though the rookie once again labored with his shooting. Ball finished 3 of 12 overall and 1 of 7 on 3-point tries.
“It’s just a matter of time, but he makes our team so much better when he’s on the floor,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “Is it extra pressure? One hundred percent. He’s a rookie that gets dissected by everybody. That is what it is. That’s probably not going to change. So we’re just going to keep working with him, encouraging him to make plays and get better and he will.”
Ball is shooting 29 percent from the field and 23 percent from the beyond the arc. He’s also averaging more than six rebounds and six assists per game.
“I really don’t even care, to be honest,” Ball said of the critics. “I know I just got to keep shooting and just keep improving every game.”
Ball wasn’t alone as Los Angeles shot 36 percent from the field and committed 19 turnovers in its second road game in as many nights.
The Wizards didn’t have shooting woes. They sank 51.8 percent of their field-goal attempts, scored 50 points in the paint and led by as many as 21 points.
Washington shot 60 percent from the field and scored its most points in any first half this season while taking a 69-56 halftime lead.
The Lakers scored 34 points in the first quarter, but finished with 22, 21 and 18 in the final three.
“It’s a start,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “It’s not solved, our defense, but it’s a start. It was a solid basketball game for a lot of guys.”
The goal is keep the momentum to start looking like a team with realistic designs on the Eastern Conference title.
“In the next game if we don’t do it it’s a waste of time,” Wall said. “We have to find a way to be one of those (teams) that can do it on a nightly basis. We did that last year when we went on a 17-game home winning streak. It’s about locking in and staying focused. We can’t keep talking about.”
Wizards forward Markieff Morris opened the third quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers and finished with 16 points. Porter’s third-quarter jumper put Washington up 91-70, and the margin never dipped below nine again.
Porter sank 7 of 12 shots for 16 first-half points, and Beal added 15 before the break. Wizards backup point guard Tim Frazier had a 3-pointer and three assists during a 13-1 run in the second quarter.
Washington opened the season 3-0 and was one quarter away from a fourth consecutive win, but Los Angeles rallied for a surprise victory after trailing by 10 points late last month.
NOTES: G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and F Kyle Kuzma each scored 13 points for the Lakers. ... Wizards F Markieff Morris went to the locker room midway through the first quarter after his knee tightened, but he returned in the second. He missed the opening seven games as he recovered from hernia surgery on Sept. 22 and acknowledged postgame that an ankle injury suffered during last season’s playoffs lingers. ... The Lakers visit the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. ... Washington hosts Atlanta on Saturday in the third contest of the four-game homestand. The meeting is the first since the Wizards defeated the Hawks in the first round of the 2017 Eastern Conference playoffs.